UVA’s political wonk Larry Sabato theorized to Rachel Maddow, and I paraphrase, that the Republican National Committee wants fewer than 17 candidates, but doesn’t have the cojones to dissuade anybody, so it’s letting Fox’s asinine debates do the job.
To get the “right” top 10 candidates, a number Fox pulled out of its ass, Fox probably cherry-picked the polls it used to get Chris Christie and John Kasich included.
I watched the 7 rejects in the 5 p.m. session (including Ricks Perry and Santorum), and no way was it a “debate.” The moderators simply lobbed cues to each candidate to regurgitate stump speech chunks. They didn’t face off at all.
Carly Fiorina gave the only noteworthy performance. Or, as mod Megyn Kelly later said, Carly “unleashed a can.”
You can’t not compare Carly to Sarah Palin’s witless garblings, and Carly was a veritable Demosthenes. Had she not run Hewlett Packard so deeply into a ditch that they gave her $40 million to get permanently lost, you might think she had a shot.
Lindsey Graham provided comic relief with his Donald Trump imitation, trying to evoke terror by claiming ISIS is invading the U.S. any minute now.
You had to feel sorry for them all.
The main event began at 8:50, as if Fox has never scheduled TV programming before. The moderators explained, “Since viewers think it starts at 9, we’ll wait,” and then wasted 10 minutes on inane banter.
Speaking of moderators, they were that nonentity Chris Wallace, over-processed Megyn Kelly, and Eddie Munster.
They marched the candidates on stage into a lineup and then ordered them to applaud the audience. In confusion, a few half-heartedly did.
Once behind the podiums, it was “Face the Mods” again. Gratuitous attempts at actual debate consisted of throwing one candidate’s cracks about another candidate back in the wisecracking candidate’s face and asking if he still believed them to be true.
Rand Paul proved feisty, bless his curls, and got into one good little tangle with Chris Christie that almost got ugly.
Donald Trump was dickish as always, but basically well-behaved. I don’t think he called anybody weak or stupid to their face. However, Megyn, as sternly as a vacuous but bitchy blonde can, reminded him that he’s called women “fat pigs” and “dogs” before.
Like Palin, I guess Megyn prefers her men to show their misogyny through legislation, not name-calling.
They tried to get Trump on the ropes for being friends with the Clintons and formerly having some liberal positions. He blew them off, claiming his ideas have “evolved, just like Reagan’s.”
And we saw lots of the usual mean Fox-baiting to elicit hatred of immigrants, gays, and the Fox-generated delusion that U.S. Christians are being persecuted.
But the candidates largely stuck to the high road. Jeb Bush was so reasonable, he came off as the only Bush who probably ever should have run for office.
John Kasich shined as a kind and moderate voice of reason.
Ben Carson got in some zingers and complained about not being given enough time, to which Megyn purred that she fully intended to personally give him more time, so much more time.
And then didn’t.
I learned Ted Cruz is Canadian. So, Republicans are good with Cruz for president even though he was born in another country to a U.S. citizen. But Obama, who was born in a U.S. state (Hawaii) also to a U.S. citizen, is NOT an American.
How do they keep all that crazy straight? Oh, right. They don’t even try.
Will this Fox farce be enough to sink some candidates? Only time will tell.